Samsung SSD 980 PCIe 3.0, analysis and opinion

Samsung SSD

We have been working and playing with the Samsung 980 SSD and this is our opinion of the new PCIe 3.0 drive of the South Korean company that aims to offer NVMe M.2 storage on a drive that costs less than 70 euros in its version with 250 GB of memory.

The exciting world of computer components. Exciting, frustrating, and expensive (with this lack of stock by the COVID)universe of PC components. We are in a bad time to mount a computer to parts or to upgrade the one we already have due to the shortage of GPUs and because the DDR5 standard should be about to come out next to the massification of PCIe 4.0 drives.

However, one component that is easy and "cheap" to upgrade right now is storage. We are seeing priced 'pulled' SSDs in their 2.5" formats, but if you ask me, in the middle of 2021 I would opt for a PCIe SSD as an internal drive, but also as an external drive to combine with a good USB-C box.

Samsung is one of the companies that is betting the most heavily on PCIe SSDs and, after launching the 980 Pro with interface 4.0, have just introduced the version that we could qualify as "the little sister". This is the Samsung 980 dry, a PCIe SSD that we've spent the last few weeks with and that's a great option, and reasonably priced, to upgrade your PC.

Samsung SSD

2280 form factor and extremely easy to install

It doesn't make much sense to talk about design on such a device because, in the end, we don't care if it's uglier than a fridge on the back. After all, what matters is something else.

However, there is one thing we should consider, and it is the form factor. When we talk about SSD or 'hard drive', badly said, by the way, we know that there are the 3.5" and the 2.5" both SSD and HDD. However, with PCIe discs, there are more formats.

We have the 22110, 2280, or the 3042, numbers that respond to different proportions and lengths. There are also PCIe, PCIe + SATA... but well, let's focus on the PCIe which is what we have on our hands.

When we talk about an M.2 2280 SSD, the first two figures refer to the width in millimeters of the device and the next two to the length. Normally there are 110 mm long, 80 mm, or 42 mm, but here we are looking at a 2280 SSD because it is 22.14 mm wide by 80.15 mm long.

Samsung SSD

This is important to keep in mind because on a motherboard on a desktop you're sure to have no problem connecting any length, but on some laptops, especially on Ultrabooks, things change and you may only accept 2280 and 42mm long formats.

Size is one of the advantages of these components over a traditional SSD, but also weight and consumption. The Samsung 980 weighs only 8 grams, allowing us to scratch a few extra grams on a laptop.

Now, is it difficult to install such an SSD? And the answer is... which is simpler than what we had so far, where we needed to screw, usually, and a SATA cable.

Solid State Drives - Internal SSDs | Samsung US

All we have to do is locate the PCIe bay of our computer (desktop and laptop), 'pinch' the unit and screw it so that it is fixed on the board and does not move. Samsung claims to withstand a force of 1,500G, so you can carry it on your 'adventure' laptop without fear. It is still a unit without moving parts, so it will not be damaged by a shock or vibrations.

In my case, when I installed the device I opened Windows 10 and its disk utility to generate the 250 GB partition (it stays at just under, about 233 GB usable), and ready, it was ready to start operating.

If you are going to do is a clean installation of Windows, which is recommended because we think that the best use for this unit is like C, in less than 10 minutes you will have completed the whole process. It's very fast. but let's check it with numbers.

Samsung SSD

NVMe that meets the promised speed at the limits of PCIe 3.0

Samsung promises a speed of up to 3,500 MB/s of writing as a claim on the box. If we meet the specifications, it is up to 3,500 MB/s sequential read and up to 3,000 MB/s sequential writes.

I wanted to connect the drive to both a desktop and a laptop, both with that PCIe 3.0 standard and without bottleneck problems with RAM and CPU.

As you can see, it's far from what the company promised, but as we've known, it's about the speed of 250 GB. The drive that reaches 3,000 MB/s sequential write and 3,500 MB/s is 1 TB and the 500 GB drive is also close to that maximum. The drive with 250 GB has a somewhat lower speed.

Next, we leave you two videos in which we compress/unzip a batch of files. These are the materials used for the analysis of the Redmi Note 10 Pro and are 78.3 GB of data with 263 files. There are files of all sizes because there is a lot of videos, but also mobile screens or photos.

In our tests, and from 512 KB files onwards, the speed is constant and practically the maximum at all times for both writing and reading. When we copy many files less than 512 KB, the SSD slows down the read because it is constantly restarting the read. It's not the type of files you usually work with the most.

However, in very large files, such as the 64 GB file test, the write is resented. It's totally normal and it's not usual to be working with those huge files, it was just a stress test.

It is a drive that offers a very good speed of both reading and writing, something that you will notice when booting your computer, leaving your laptop at rest, or loading games. Don't expect, however, the upload speeds we're seeing in some Series X/Series S or PS5 titles, as console discs are highly optimized for gaming and it's something that unfortunately doesn't happen on a PC yet.

We recommend that you install this unit as a system drive and install the programs that you use the most on it. With 233 GB of storage we can not pass when it comes to putting applications and data, but the system, browsers, and Photoshop, in my case, have offered me a great performance on this unit.

One thing I've been using this SSD for is, on an external USB-C drive, exporting Final Cut projects (the macOS video editing program) on MacBook Air with an M1 processor.

It offers a very good transfer rate and high enough to be able to use it as an external SSD (with a good cable, yes), so it's a good way to externally expand your laptop's capacity with a drive that has spectacular speed.

SSD | Solid State Drives | Samsung India

Finally, I'd like to talk about the temperature. SSDs are drives that heat up due to the frequency at which their components go and the memories, as in some consoles and GPUs we have seen, are 'warm' elements. Samsung has applied a nickel base for the controller and we see that there is a thermal label running through the controller and the memories.

The device has a thermal solution called Dynamic Thermal Guard that guarantees optimal levels of operation to avoid failures and, of course, this is something that is seen over time.

For now, we can say that, in IDLE, the SSD is kept at a comfortable 45-48o, and in heavy tasks such as running video games, it goes up to about 60-65o. In performance tests, which in the end are the ones that put the unit to the maximum, those values are around 80o. It's not a worrying temperature, but if your plate has a passive dissipation system, the better.

Samsung SSD

Samsung Magician to monitor the unit

Software for a storage drive? Well... Yes. Samsung has the Samsung Magician program that does not need, at all, for the unit to work properly, but that is interesting to monitor the status of the unit.

The first few days I was using the SSD without heeding Magician, but the truth is that it is a useful tool and that you do not have to pay attention to in the day today, but that does not consume too many resources and that is there in case we ever need it.

With it we can see the status and speed metrics of the SSD, but also the temperature and we can track the cycles of the device, the TBW. By the way, this model, the 250 GB model, has 150 TBW. Also, with Magician, we can encrypt data and be up to date in software updates.

Samsung SSD

Does it work on PS5?

One of the keys to PS5 is that it has a slot in which we can introduce different PCIe SSD formats. It is easily accessible and is totally legal, so we will not lose the warranty.

The bad news is that that slot isn't active yet, something Sony will enable by the software when the time comes and... well, because what we have to introduce is a PCIe 4.0 SSD and, of course, it's not what we have on our hands.

Sony hasn't yet made a list of compatible SSDs, but we do know that those that can deliver speed equal to or greater than the fantastic SSD that has board-welded PS5 will be supported.

For example, the older brother, the 980 Pro would support that speed of up to 7,000 MB/s reading, but we are talking about a very, much higher speed in that Pro model, and a much higher price, it must be said.

Samsung 980 review: a very fast and affordable SSD to revitalize your work center

We reached the end of the analysis of the Samsung 980 and the truth is that we have found a really balanced option to revitalize a PC or create a high-speed external drive.

Samsung SSD

When we talk about Samsung QVO units or non-Pro units, we need to talk about devices that have significant differences in durability and speed in the same range, since the 1TB version of this particular unit is faster than the one we analyzed.

However, to play, create a bootable SSD with basic programs and operating system, or to use it as an external drive with Thunderbolt, we are talking about a spectacular drive, especially for a very good value for money.

If you want something else (much more) fast, you inevitably have to go for the Pro option, a version that will also be compatible with PS5 if you want, but if what you are looking for is an M.2 PCIe 3.0 at a good price and stable, I can not think why not bet on this version of the South Korean manufacturer.

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